Job as a Singer

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Sandy Jones is a lead vocalist. Her work takes her to a variety of gigs around the north of England.

How did you get into this type of work?

I started dancing at the age of 15 when I began classes in contemporary dance, jazz and ballet. I really enjoyed being part of a group of people who came together through dance.

At 18, I trained in drama and dance, and went on to the Rambert School in London. After that, I worked with several dance companies which involved music. Also, I took part in several film and TV productions as an actress. Eventually, I became more interested in singing as a career and was delighted when I joined the band as lead singer.

What sort of music do you sing?

We play serious funk with fast bass line, melodic saxophones and great break-beats. We do a take on the big band sound, and at the gigs where we play we have to get the crowds moving.

What equipment do you use?

I just use a microphone but the band has bass guitar, drums, guitar, alto saxophone, tenor sax, bongos and keyboard, and we are about to acquire a trumpet player. Because we have a DJ we also have turntables. Bands need a lot of sound equipment as well as instruments.We have to carry all this around with us when we play at gigs.

What constitutes a typical day for you?

No one day is the same. I am either singing, dancing, rehearsing or resting. In the entertainment business you tend to work when most people are at leisure, so I get time off during the working week and in the daytime.

Do you work regular hours?

No, there is no such thing. I rehearse with the band once a week for three hours and also during the day when we have a performance that evening. For each performance, we have to travel to the venue, set up the equipment, perform, dismantle everything afterwards and then go home. On tour, we can be away for long periods, rehearsing during the day and playing or dancing at night.

What about current training?

There is little time or opportunity for further training at present as we are all busy in the band rehearsing, travelling and performing. In this type of work you must take advantage of any opportunity for training early in your career. Once you start performing regularly, you have to make time for further training.

As a child, I started with drama and singing lessons at a local academy before receiving more structured training at drama school.

Also, in some shows you can get extra singing and drama lessons from the coaches associated with the shows.

What do you like best about your job as a singer?

It gives me a real thrill to see a hall full of people enjoying themselves. I also enjoy jamming with like-minded people and developing new musical ideas.

What skills and qualities are needed?

You need to have some talent in the first place, and the ability to develop musically. Also, you are often working in a group and need to get on with people. You are part of a team and must be prepared to learn from others and be willing to listen to advice and criticism.

Sandy's route to becoming a singer

  • Weekend drama training at school.
  • Dance classes.
  • Dance training at the Rambert School.
  • Experience in dancing, acting and singing.
  • TV and film roles.

Sandy's tips

  • Get proper voice training as singing incorrectly can eventually damage your vocal cords.
  • Explore as many singing styles as possible.
  • Have a go at writing your own songs.

Singer related jobs

Salary of a singer

  • Payment is often made on a performance basis and varies enormously according to venue, audience size and band popularity.
  • Minimum rate for a singer in a West End show is £320 a week for eight shows or around £65 for a single performance out of London.
  • When starting out as a professional singer it may be essential to take on other part-time work until sufficient experience is gained.

Getting in

  • Some musical ability is essential and this should be developed as far as possible at school and in amateur groups before making a decision.
  • Many pop stars started their careers at stage schools and there are large numbers of suitable courses available at colleges across the country. Courses can lead to a BTEC National Diploma and successful students will be able to continue their studies on to the BTEC HND in Rock and Pop music.
  • There are no specific entry requirements other than music ability, backed by evidence of at least Grade 3 Associated Board of the Royal School of Music examinations.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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